How to Sharpen Dog Nail Clippers

How to sharpen dog nail clippers
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Do you opt to take on the responsibility of grooming your dog on your own? Many pet parents do, as it helps save time and money, as well as lowers their pets’ anxiety.

If you do decide to do this at home, among the first things you’d need is the right pair of nail clippers.

Then, for the best results, you should also take the time to learn how to sharpen dog nail clippers.

Types of Dog Nail Clippers

Identifying the type of clippers you own is important, as it will determine how they need to be sharpened.

There are three different dog nail clippers that you can find, each with their benefits. The three types include:

1. Guillotine

The majority of nail clippers you're bound to find will have a guillotine design. These are the tools that require you to squeeze two handles for the blade to cut.

Once finished, the blade will retract, and you'll be able to engage a safety lock to keep them closed.

It is incredibly crucial that guillotine nail clippers are kept sharp; otherwise, they'll perform poorly.

Dull blades can result in splintered and cracked nails, as well as far more effort. You'll have to squeeze the handles tighter, constricting your pet's nails and causing discomfort.

It's also important to consider how to use guillotine clippers. You'll want to make sure you avoid the quick and engage the blade guard to protect your pet's nails.

Thankfully, they are very user-friendly and designed for your comfort.

2. Scissors

Scissor nail clippers are another option and are highly recommended for thick nails.

If you have a large breed dog, opting for scissors can be a better choice, as it handles rigid materials.

Some pet parents find that scissor nail cutters are more comfortable to use than guillotine models.

Also, professionals tend to opt for this clipper style as it's quick and requires little maintenance.

3. Rotary Sander

Finally, you might have a rotary sander or grinder. These come with a sander that spins and cuts the nail down while smoothing the edges simultaneously.

It can be a time-consuming process, especially if your dog has thick and hardened nails. Also, it might cause your dogs to get anxious while trimming because it is a powered tool.

Another disadvantage is that they require regular maintenance, as the sander needs to be replaced often.

Nevertheless, most owners choose these clippers because of the smooth and professional look they offer.

how to sharpen dog nail clippers

How to Sharpen Dog Nail Clippers

Sharpening your pet's clippers at home is easier than you might think. However, if you're worried about damaging them, you can pay for sharpening.

If that’s something that you don’t want to do, following the steps below will show that it’s easy enough to do on your own.

Step 1: Dismantle the Tool

First, you will need to dismantle the clippers so that you can access the blade for sharpening.

Typically, you'll need to refer to your clippers' manual to know how to take them apart. Lever designs are the simplest, as you only need to remove a pin that holds the clippers together.

Step 2: Clean the Equipment

Using a liquid cleaner, such as dish soap and water, ensure you thoroughly disinfect the clippers.

You'll want to get into all of the crevices to get rid of any trapped nails and dust before sharpening. If there is any debris on the blade, it will affect the quality of its sharpness.

Step 3: Choose Sharpening Tools

The next step is to begin sharpening the blades with your tool of choice. There are plenty of options for working with the metal in nail clippers, such as:

  • Ceramic rod
  • Grinding stone
  • Sharpening stone
  • Diamond tapered rod

Choosing the sharpening tool will depend on the style of clippers you own. You'll find most professional groomers prefer a sharpening or grinding stone, as it's easy to use.

Most people find that it helps to get the perfect level of sharpness much faster than other methods. Also, sharpening and grinding stones are inexpensive and last quite a while.

Step 4: Begin Sharpening

To get the perfect sharpness, hold the blade of your clippers at a 45-degree angle. It's essential to hold it properly, as it will determine how evenly the blade is sharpened.

You'll want to slide the blade along the stone for a minimum of 10 times on each side. You should be able to see the blade get sharper as you move it across the stone.

When you've finished once side, wipe the blade clean with a damp cloth, and repeat on the other side. Wipe down the sharpening stone after you're finished.

Step 5: Reassemble the Clippers

As soon as you reached your desired sharpness, you can now wipe the blade and reassemble the clippers.

It can be a good idea to use clipper oil on the blades to help lubricate them for future use. Some even suggest adding a little bit of oil to the springs, especially on guillotine models.

When to Replace the Clippers

Over time, you'll notice that even though you keep sharpening your clippers, they don't perform well. At this point, it might be time to consider replacing them.

Poorly performing clippers can be quite dangerous for your pets, too.

A few things to look for when deciding whether to replace your clippers are:

1. Thin and Brittle Blades

The more a blade is sharpened, the smaller and thinner it will become.

Instead of taking the risk of the blade snapping in the middle of grooming, buy a new pair. Your pets will surely appreciate having a clipper that cuts like butter.

You can also have peace of mind knowing that you have a new and reliable pair of clippers to use.

2. Any Signs of Damage

Even if you think a particular issue with the nail clippers isn't important, it could be. The slightest defect in the blade could cause insurmountable pain to your pet.

If you think that it's time to replace the trimmers, it's likely time to begin searching.

Quality is key when it comes to finding the perfect pair of clippers. The blade should be smooth, sharp, and easy to work through thick materials.

3. Stubborn Blades

Some of the lower-quality clippers on the market are not easy to sharpen. You might run them across your sharpening block multiple times only to find them dull still.

At this point, it's better to cut your losses and consider investing in a higher-quality pair.

It's far too often that pet parents try to use dull clippers on their pets. Unfortunately, this decision leads to poorly misshapen nails, physical injury, and, at times, bleeding.

This point is particularly essential for beginners, as you'll want the right tools to help make it simpler.


When it comes to nail clippers, as long as they are still sharp and sturdy, they'll be safe for your pet.

Thankfully, figuring out how to sharpen dog nail clippers is easier than you'd think, especially with high-quality tools.

You should be able to get several sharpens out of your clippers before you consider replacing them.

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